Everything you need to know

This is my ultimate guide to marketing for therapists.

If you’re starting a private practice, you need marketing. But not just any marketing... you need marketing for therapists. Here, I go through the exact strategy and recommendations that I make (and execute) for my clients. Are you ready for niched, proven private practice marketing tactics? Let's get started.

Part 2 | SEO

seo section

It’s one thing to have a website, but it’s a whole other thing for potential clients to see your website.

That’s where SEO comes in.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the ongoing work of getting your site to rank on search engines (like Google, Bing, or Yahoo) for keywords.

At Therapieseo, this is my specialty and passion (Therapie[seo], get it?).

Here, I'll discuss the following: keywords, bots, ranking factors, link building, content writing, technicality, and local SEO.


Keywords are a word or a string of words that people type into search engines.

When you strategize for SEO, you first decide on the keywords you would like to rank for. For example, if you are a depression and anxiety therapist in San Diego, California, you would want to rank for keywords like these:

  • [therapist near me],
  • [depression therapist],
  • [anxiety therapist],
  • [depression and anxiety therapist], and
  • [therapist san diego].

The keywords above are transactional. This means that the people searching using these keywords are looking to make a transaction, which in this case, is hiring a therapist.

A robust SEO strategy also targets informational keywords. These keywords can include things like:

  • [how to tell family about depression],
  • [how to find a therapist], and
  • [seasonal depression tips].

As you can see, these people (at the moment) aren’t actively searching for a therapist. At this point, they’re in the research phase. Maybe they’re researching for ways to help themselves or a friend. Either way, they’re not hiring anyone.


Informational keywords simply meet people a little bit before they are ready to hire. If you provide informational content like this, you are the first therapist that pops in their mind when they’re ready to meet with someone. If you introduce your brand as helpful and knowledgeable, they will remember you.


Google (or Bing, or any other search engine) uses bots (also known as robots or spiders) when someone enters a keyword.

As soon as that person clicks “enter,” Google deploys these bots at lightning speed to scour the internet for the best search results. If a page ranks well for a keyword, Google deems that page as one of the best results for that person’s query.

SEO work optimizes your website so that bots choose your page to rank.

So how do bots choose, and how do SEOs optimize sites for bots?

Well, we take cues from Google’s ranking factors.

Google's ranking factors

There are 200+ ranking factors, many of which the SEO community don’t know.

However, SEOs do know that Google’s algorithm assesses a piece of content/website using 26 things (you can read through them here).

If you plan on optimizing your site for search engines on your own, we recommend focusing your energy on the following three things: link building and content writing

Link building

What is link building?

Link building is the process of gaining backlinks. Backlinks are links to your website from other websites.

To Google, the quantity and quality of your backlinks are signals of your site’s trustworthiness and authority. This is why link building is so foundational.

There are many, many link building strategies. Instead of going through all of them (there’s no need to bore you, and there are plenty of great resources online), I recommend the following types of links:

  • Highly authoritative. Institutions, non-profits, schools, and websites that are 10+ years old (if they aren’t spammy) are typically highly authoritative. This means that Google trusts them, so they value where they link to. The more links from these sites, the better.
  • Local. If the sites linking to you are in your area, that helps Google place you in an actual location. This helps you rank for keywords with local intent (ie [therapist san diego]).
  • Relevant. If the link is from a website that’s in your industry, you’ve struck gold.

Remember that quality trumps quantity. A bunch of spammy, irrelevant links actually hurts your site.

So, the ideal link would be from a local, authoritative institution regarding therapy and counseling. For example, a reputable organization of therapists in your city or state that was founded in the 90s.

That is the perfect link.

Content writing

The types of content you write and how you write them is an amalgamation of a few of the top ranking factors.

Essentially, you want a mix of pages targeting transactional and information keywords that satisfy a person’s search intent. Search intent is the intention a person has when they enter a keyword into a search engine.

For example, if you’re searching for a celebrity’s net worth, you don’t necessarily want an essay. You are looking for a number. So, you want a quick 200 word post that succinctly answers your question.

However, what if you’re looking to buy a vacuum cleaner? In that case, you would want a list of the best vacuum cleaners on the market with pricing and features.


Actionable tip: Identifying search intent

You can quickly identify a user's search intent by simply entering the keyword on Google. Take note of the types of content on the page: are there lots of transactional pages? These include service areas. Or, are there lots of blog posts and guides? That generally means that people searching that keyword are looking for information over buying/hiring.


So, when writing content:

  1. Decide on keywords that you want to rank for,
  2. Identify the search intent, and
  3. Write the piece.

Simple enough, right?

I wish.

Step four is optimizing your content, which is referred to as on-page SEO.

When optimizing your content for search, you have to write for people and bots. Bots read code, so when you write content, you have to optimize headings, image names, alt tags, and internal linking (to name a few).

Writing and optimizing content for SEO is complicated, and it’s constantly changing with video media, artificial intelligence, voice search, and more.

Below is an infographic that's a quick guide to writing for SEO.

marketing therapy private practice

When in doubt, write the absolute best content that you can. Google says that user experience is their #1 ranking factor, so when in doubt, write for potential clients. Put those empathy skills to work--answer every question.

Local SEO

Next, I will discuss SEO’s cousin: local SEO.

If you conduct a quick search on Google, you’ll notice that the SERP (the search engine results page) is set up like this:

There are ads.

therapist marketing

There are local results.

web marketing therapy

Then, there are organic results.

marketing psychologist

Local SEO targets the local results, or the map pack, while SEO targets organic rankings. Keep in mind that they inform and help each other.

Ideally, you rank in the map pack that appears on the search engine results page.

You can work towards ranking locally by doing the following:

  1. Optimize your Google My Business Listing. Google My Business Listings are free, and they are the only way that you can rank in the map pack.
  2. Pursue local citations. Set up listings on sites like FourSquare, Map Quest, and Yelp. Listing your NAP (name, address, and phone number) with a link to your site is a huge. Bonus: you get backlinks to your site while you’re at it.
  3. Get reviews. Reviews on your Google My Business shows Google that your business is legit. Plus, who wouldn’t want to a hire a therapist with dozens of 5 star reviews?
  4. Local links. Remember when we talked about local links? Those helps your local rankings, too.
  5. Update the listing regularly. Add posts, keep your business details up to date... the more you use Google's product, the more Google will favor you.

There's waaaay more that we could discuss about local SEO, but we'll leave it at that for now :)

Part 3 | Paid Advertisements

paid ads part three

In the marketing world, we like to refer to paid ads as the sprint and SEO as the marathon.

Both have their place, but if you’re looking for short-term wins to quickly build your practice, I recommend paid ads.

In this section, I’ll discuss how advertisements work online, budgets, and how to optimize your campaigns.

How ads work online

On the internet, you pay for advertisements via clicks or impressions.

Via click

If you are advertising on search engines themselves (see the image below), you pay only when someone clicks on your ad.

how to do marketing for therapists

This is known as PPC advertising, or pay-per-click. Advertisements can appear at the top, bottom, or side of the SERP.

Via impression

You can also pay for ads when someone views your ad, which is referred to as an impression.

marketing guide for therapists

If you have ever noticed ads on other websites (like the ad placement on the food blog pictured above), those ads are run through Google’s Display Network. The Display Network is a massive group of websites that are partners with Google, and ads run on these sites are charged when a person simply sees an ad. You can also run impression campaigns on social media.


Actionable tip: Targeting potential clients’ interests on social media advertising

Facebook isn’t really a social media platform--they are a data company. They have so much data on their users that they can identify political leanings, relationship statuses, interests, locations, and more. Although the ethics of this are debatable, this data does offer interest targeting options when advertising. This means that when setting up an ad, you can select to advertise it to people interested in mental health specifically.


My recommendation

Impression campaigns can be successful, but they can be costly. And I don’t mean expensive (necessarily), I mean that they typically cost more to acquire new clients.

It’s estimated that to click on your ad, clients need to see your advertisement a few times on the Display Network (or on social media). The question is, do you have the budget to pay for clients seeing an advertisement a few times before they even click on your ad?

Keep in mind that there is also a drop-off rate after people click on your ad. Just because someone clicks on your ad doesn’t automatically mean they become a client.

Because of this, for budget-conscious therapists starting their own private practices, I recommend PPC advertising simply because you have more control over where your budget goes. I only run PPC campaigns for my clients. I think that at this point in their practice, it is the best way for therapists to allocate their budget with control.

You can control your cost-per-click manually, but Google offers great bidding strategies, too. Experiment with them to see which works best for you.

Note that I am not against impression campaigns; impression campaigns are a huge part of many companies’ marketing strategies. But, I don’t personally think that they are the right choice for marketing a new therapy private practice.


Speaking of budgets, let’s discuss budgeting for your online campaign.

To budget for your campaign, you need to decide the monetary value a client has to your over time and how much you’re willing to spend to acquire them.

Let’s say that over a six month period, a client’s value is $1,200. To make a profit on that client, theoretically, you could spend up to $1,199.99 to acquire that client and profit. But let’s say you only want to spend $50 to acquire that client, and you want three new clients a month. So, theoretically, you would spend $150 a month to acquire three new clients.

But before you set that $50, also known as your target cost-per-acquisition, you need to compare that number with how much clicks actually cost. For example, the keyword [depression therapist] has an estimated cost-per-click (CPC) of $9. [depression therapist] is searched 1,000 times a month. You get 50 clicks a month, but only three of those clicks become clients.

So, hypothetically, you spent $450 in a month ($9 x 50 clicks). Divide that $450 by your three new clients, and you spent $150 per each client. A reasonable budget then, would be around $450 dollars per month to gain three new clients.

However, this example does not account for the many factors that go into optimizing a campaign, which help you compete with your competitors and make the most of your budget. I’ll go over that next.

How to optimize your campaigns

As always, optimizing your campaign on Google comes back to quality.

  • Your ads should be well-written and follow Google’s advertisement guidelines.
  • Your landing pages should be well-written and well-designed (i.e. conversion-focused copywriting and design).
  • Your content should meet the exact intention that a user has when they search for your target keywords. Your ads should exactly match your landing page in language and search intent.

Optimizing your campaign in these ways should raise your Quality Score (QS). Quality Score is one of Google’s metrics that assesses the, you guessed it, quality of your campaign. If your QS is high (QS can be a number anywhere between 1 and 10), your cost-per-click can actually decrease. This saves you money, and in turn, will likely help you convert more clients.

Part 4 | Directories

directories part 4

Marketing your therapy practice on directories is uncomplicated, but the results are anything but.

If you’re interested, you can read my complete list and full assessment of therapist directories.

Some directories, like Psychology Today, are kind of like a tax on marketing your therapy practice. You, in some ways, have to have a Psychology Today listing, but the tangible benefits of having the Psychology Today listing can be hard to tell.

In my post about how much a Psychology Today listing costs, I delve deeply into the benefits and promises of paying for a listing. FYI, it’s $29.95/month. That’s $360 per year, so it’s not nothing. However, if you sign one client per year, the listing pays for itself.

Here, I will go over the benefits and downsides of having listings on therapist directories.


There are a few benefits of directories for your therapist marketing.


A lot of directories allow you to link back to your website. Like I've mentioned before, backlinks are hugely beneficial for SEO. What’s great about these links is that:

  • They’re niched (in the therapy space) and
  • The domain authority of these directories are typically really high.

Always check or ask the directory company if you will get a link back to your website. If you don’t, I don’t recommend paying for a listing.

Possible leads

Although it’s unlikely since there are so many listings, you could get leads. Directories typically offer filters that allow users to search for a therapist more specifically, but that will still make you one of hundreds of therapists.

Actionable tip: Getting leads on directories

To increase your chances, fill out your profile in its entirety. Make sure that your headshot looks professional (and NOT dated) and that your profile content speaks to your ideal client.


Depending on how much you invest in directories, the downsides could outweigh the positives. Regardless, they do exist.

Nofollow links

Not all directories allow you to add links.

And if they do, they might be “nofollow” links, meaning Google doesn’t crawl them. There is debate about that in the SEO community. Many SEOs think that yes, actually Google does crawl nofollow links.

No follow links can still be beneficial, though. You want a natural looking backlink profile. If your backlink profile is too perfect, made up of only dofollow, high authority links, Google might think that it’s suspect. The absolute last thing that you want is a manual penalty from Google, although this is unlikely unless you get spammy links.

Few to no leads

Like me mentioned, the chances of signing a client from a popular directory like Psychology Today are low. In Denver alone, there were 1,747 listings and 87 pages of results.

False promises

A lot of directories promise things that they shouldn’t.

For example:

  • First-page rankings on Google
  • A guaranteed number of clients
  • A listing on the "#1 referral source"

These are big claims, and I doubt that they can back them up.

I believe that there is a time and place for directories, but they shouldn't be your only strategy. They're not on your side, and your exposure is 100% up to them. That's not too comforting.

Part 5 | Email Marketing

email marketing part 5

Congratulations! You have successfully brought people to your website. But now, you have to turn them into clients.

Today, people typically spend a lot of time researching before hiring a therapist. By now, you've hopefully caught their eye with your amazing branding, website, photography, and content, but some people still won't contact you.

It's estimated that before hiring a business or purchasing a product, people view a business's content five to six times. This is why it's crucial to build an email list of prospective clients.

By subscribing, potential clients don't forget you and get to know you. To hire you, people have to know, like, and trust you. By communicating with potential clients on an email list, you can show your expertise and serve them, which warms them up to the idea of working with you.

Here are the top things you need to know about email marketing and your therapy practice.

Setting up a signup form

Email marketing providers (Flodesk, Sendinblue, MailChimp, etc.) should make creating signup forms easy.

All you need is someone's first name and their email address. It's crucial that you get their name--it helps with personalizing their emails to increase your open and interaction rates.

On your form, make sure that you also turn on double opt-in. You've probably double opted-in to something before. After you enter your name and email address, you have to go to your inbox and confirm your subscription. Double opt-in is crucial for a few reasons:

  1. It helps you avoid spammy subscribers.
  2. It makes sure that people are actually getting your emails instead of your emails being automatically routed into spam folders.
  3. It ensures extra compliance with privacy regulations.

Note that most email marketing platforms are not HIPAA compliant. It might be a good idea to inform people of that on your signup form or in your initial welcome sequence.

Creating a lead magnet

Here's the reality: most people won't sign up for your email list UNLESS you offer them something really valuable. By creating an incentive, or a lead magnet, you increase the likeliness of a subscription.

Your lead magnet doesn't have to be complicated. It can be a simple PDF that you attach or send via a link in a welcome email. Whatever you end up going with, make sure that it provides a solution to your ideal client. For example, if you work with anxious people who suffer from IBS, you could create a simple list of tips on managing their anxiety and IBS.

Lead magnets help potential clients and show them that you know what you're talking about.

Make sure to center your sign up form around your lead magnet.

The copy for the form could be something like "5 tips to decrease your anxiety today!" One simple, transformative statement goes a long way.

Adding a welcome sequence

After subscribers sign up, send a series of welcome emails. These "nurture" sequences allow you to introduce yourself more and send them valuable content that helps them with their problems. A welcome sequence should be two to five emails spread over a week or two. Let them know that you won't email this much in the future, only now you as you get to know each other.

Pack this sequence with value. Your best blog posts, more free downloads, tips, support... anything that makes the subscriber feel cared for. This will warm them to you, and makes imagining themselves in therapy with you more real.

Make your welcome sequence (and all your welcome emails) personable. Don't act like you're writing to your email list; act like you're writing to one person.

Serving your list

Updating your list on changes to your practices is good, but giving them content that they need is better.

I've heard before that content marketing isn't providing content that people want. It's providing content that people need, content that people can't imagine living without.

Sharing blog posts, creating resources only for your list (speak to them like they're an insider, a VIP), and other methods significantly increase the likeliness of a conversion (meaning a client working with you, or whatever goal you have).

Opportunities from an email list

Keep in mind that some subscribers may not be from your state, so you may not be able to work with them in a therapy setting. But who's to say that you don't start coaching across state lines? Maybe creating digital products like online courses? Or maybe you want to offer wellness retreats? An engaged email list allows you to venture into alternative sources of income more easily.

We've been discussing marketing your practice (business) this whole time. But in reality, you are marketing your brand. Brands last longer than businesses and are worth ten times what your therapy practice could be. Building out your list may be your greatest asset. Having a dedicated audience allows you to try new things in your career as an entrepreneur.

Social media algorithms change and people stop using certain platforms. Because of this, you have to curate an audience on your own platforms like your mailing list. You definitely won't regret it.

Work with me!

As you may have guessed by now, I do marketing for therapists and counselors :)

If you're interested in working with me, keep scrolling to learn more about me and my services or contact me to schedule a free consultation.